Who are you?

Carl Pope: I am Carl Pope. I’m the Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. during the McCarthy era in the ‘60s. And I learned about government by reading the Style section of the Washington Post. So I never bought the civics class notion of what it was all supposed to be about. And I think the combination of the place and the time led me to think the only interesting thing worth doing was trying to change societies. I went into the Civil Rights Movement. I was in Arkansas with Freedom Summer in 1965. I organized the Hospital Workers’ Union in Boston. Or I helped to organize it sneaking into what was then _________ Hospital at 6:00 in the morning and sticking leaflets in workers’ lockers; terrified that the security guards would come and, I suppose, ask me to leave. I don’t know what else they would do to a college kid at that point. And then I went into the Peace Corps for two years working in public health. I came back and it was 1970, and what seemed to be happening was Earth Day. I really wasn’t an environmentalist. I mean I like the outdoors. I like camping, but I didn’t think of myself as a conservationist. And I got into the environmental movement in 1970, and 37 years later here I am.

Tthere were a number of influences. My parents were important influences. I watched their unhappiness as a lot of their friends . . . We were never touched directly by McCarthyism, but certainly a lot of our friends were. And so that left a very bad taste in my mouth.

I had a high school teacher who I believe is now the District Attorney in Montgomery County, Maryland who was a big fan of the Mexican Revolution; and taught me about _________ and all those guys. And then I think the Civil Rights Movement was a very early and present force. I mean Marion Barry, who later became the mayor of Washington, D.C. and got into various kinds of trouble, was at that point a field organizer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. And I remember when I was in high school we had a fundraiser for him at our house. So there was a lot of exposure to those kinds of things that I think helped shape me.

By the time I was, let’s say 15, 16 – I don’t think I had much of a concept before that – I sort of imagined I’d be working for the government, which I never have done. I thought I’d go work in international development. I thought I’d work for the UN. I thought I’d work for AID. I thought I’d work for the State Department. Then I went to India with the Peace Corps, and I was in a part of India that was very poor where it was just after a famine. People were dying, starving. It was pretty clear that the reason people were starving was because the people who were running that particular part of India at that particular moment really didn’t care very much. And yet I realized that as an American, I actually didn’t have any role in deciding who was running the show. And I should. I didn’t want to. So I realized I wasn’t cut out to be an ________. So then I had to come back to the United States and reinvent myself because I had spent what, by that time, seemed like a lot of my life. I had studied this stuff in college for four years. I learned Arabic. I went to India. I learned Hindi. I had like six years of my life at 24 invested in a foreign gig. And it became pretty clear the foreign gig wasn’t gonna work for me. So I was a little bit confused. And as I said environmentalism just came along.


September 27, 2007

Carl Pope never bought the McCarthy era civics lessons. Instead, he organized a hospital union in Arkansas.

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
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  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
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Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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